Human Rights Council debates UN expert’s report on violence against children

Human Rights Council debates UN expert’s report on violence against children

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The Geneva-based Human Rights Council today held a special debate on violence against children looking at how best to follow-up on last year’s study by an independent United Nations expert that calls for a wide range of measures, covering the responsibility of governments and others, to stamp out the global scourge.

The Geneva-based Human Rights Council today held a special debate on violence against children looking at how best to follow-up on last year’s study by an independent United Nations expert that calls for a wide range of measures, covering the responsibility of governments and others, to stamp out the global scourge.

“While legal obligations lie with States, all sectors of society, all individuals, share the responsibility of condemning and preventing violence against children and responding to child victims. None of us can look children in the eye if we continue to approve or condone any form of violence against them,” states the report written by Paulo Sérgio Pinheiro and presented to the General Assembly in October.

Speaking during today’s debate in Geneva, Mr. Pinheiro said high-level global attention to the problem of violence against children was crucial for increasing awareness and ensuring the political will and adequate resources necessary to foster change.

The UN Deputy High Commissioner for Human Rights Kyung-wha Kang said that the UN and its partner agencies were fully committed to ensuring that Mr. Pinheiro’s recommendations were followed up, and especially his efforts to develop a long-term strategy for combining public health, education, child protection and human rights in a common approach.

Representatives from over 20 countries and regional groups also spoke during the debate, along with non-governmental organizations (NGOs) and UN agencies, including the UN Children’s Fund (UNICEF).

“The core message of the Study is that no violence against children is justifiable; all violence against children is preventable,” states Mr. Pinheiro’s report. “Member States must act now with urgency to fulfil their human rights obligations and other commitments to ensure protection from all forms of violence.”

The report covers cruel and humiliating punishment, genital mutilation of girls, neglect, sexual abuse, homicide and other forms of violence against children, painting a sobering picture backed up by statistics and in many cases the testimonies of children themselves.

Most of the 10 pages of recommendations and follow-up are directed primarily at States and refer to their legislative, administrative, judicial, policymaking, service delivery and institutional functions, while also emphasizing the primacy of the family.